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Politics

Mitsotakis’ Rivals Take Last Whacks Before EU Parliament Elections

ATHENS – Greece’s major opposition SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis and PASOK-KINAL Socialist leader Nikos Androulakis stepped up criticism of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of European Parliament elections where they hope to gain seats.

Surveys gave Mitsotakis’ New Democracy candidates a 15 percent lead over those from other parties for the 720 spots in the EU’s legislature that is largely symbolic and has headquarters in Brussels and Strasbourg, France.

Mitsotakis’ party won nearly 41 percent of the vote in the 2023 national elections in Greece but he said he’d be satisfied with 33 percent for the EU elections amid worries that there will be widespread disinterest and most people not voting.

Mitsotakis is counting on the country’s accelerating economy to offset his rivals taking shots over what they alleged was a coverup of a 2023 train crash that killed 57 people and the National Intelligence Service EYP bugging phones.

But Kasselakis, who released his declaration of wealth that showed he had $2,067,139, challenged Mitsotakis to do the same, noting that the Prime Minister hasn’t done so since 2021 although laws require politicians to reveal their worth.

FILE – PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis. (SOTIRIS DIMITROPOULOS/EUROKINISSI)

He also pointed out that New Democracy hasn’t disclosed the terms by which he said the party obtained 500,000 euros ($543,642) in bank loans amid reports they weren’t fully repaid and there was no accounting of how it was spent.

Kasselakis claimed that the Conservatives have spent 192,000 euros ($208,759) – double what all the other parties in Greece have spent combined – in the last month promoting its campaign just on Google.

He said that Mitsotakis’ campaign was designed by American political strategist Stan Greenberg, who was said to be working as a consultant to the Prime Minister, who was educated largely at American universities.

Government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis lashed back that Kasselakis had “unleashed the winds of Aeolus” by publishing a document containing the assets and business activities of the Greek-American businessman’s wealth.

THE MONEY TRAIL

Marinakis said the declaration showed that Kasselakis was a member of a business board at the time of his election to SYRIZA’s leadership in 2023, that’s a violation of Greek law but Kasselakis said he divested himself of interest.

Androulakis, trying to get his party past SYRIZA in polls, picked on the coming increase in electricity bills as his forum and blamed it on the government’s energy planning he said had failed consumers.

“The ineptitude of the government continues, as increases in electricity bills of up to 70 percent are coming in June. An increase that is due, among others, on the fact that the government has transferred the entire cost of the non-competitive services on to final consumers,” he said.

Androulakis said that the big suppliers were benefiting and spoke of a “tragic delay” in developing power storage systems, as other countries have done, although the government earlier subsidized 90 percent of electricity bills that spiked over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roiling energy markets.

“The mistaken energy planning of the government has painful repercussions, leading to further increases in the coming months. They can no longer hide behind non-existent excuses. They have to answer for their ineptitude in the energy sector as well,” he added.

While there was apparent apathy over the European Union elections, some 53 percent of adults in Greece said they had a negative feeling about the role of the bloc, the highest among nine of the 27 member states surveyed.

That was found in a poll by the American-based Pew Research Center that showed 63 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the EU, driven largely by those who said they were left-wing.

But in Greece, 56 percent of those who said they were conservative or right-wing had a higher opinion of the EU, compared to only 31 percent of those on the left, with bitter divisions in the country.

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